Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
We Feel So Spa-ritual!
Alexandra and I just returned from presenting at the second Tenaya Spa Wellness Retreat. We also presented at their first event, which we summarized in this post. We may not die with a lot of stuff, but we sure are rich in experiences! For one, who would have thought the gateway to Yosemite would be hiking-sandal weather and nearly snowless in mid-January? For another, who knew that smoked sturgeon tasted delicious when braised in tea?
Anyway, we drove up through sun, drought, and beautiful pine trees to offer two workouts: Drums Alive and ABC: Abs, Butt, Core and two workshops: Most Common Exercises Done Right and Wrong and 7 Movement Habits to Improve Your Brain Today. As presenters, we had the privilege to take part in the entire retreat. That included hearing American Spa magazine editor, publisher, and keynote speaker, Julie Keller Callaghan speak on Top Trends in the spa world.
Job Seekers Apply Here
One of the key points Julie made is that the spa industry is growing. No, make that Exploding. Faster than a hot flash in the middle of a public presentation. As in, if you know people needing career direction, steer them to a resort. It’s not solely baby boomers driving the growth. Just as many people (mostly women, no shocker there) ages 30-50 are going to spas as those 50-70.
Special Can Mean Affordable
I was actually surprised, because, seriously — who has the money to head to spas so often? How can a luxury industry be taking over the wellness world? Turns out one of the trends is what Julie calls “Specialty Solutions,” which are affordable, specific indulgences. If you want just your lashes, hair, or skin treated, you can now find “beauty bars” and express services at mainstream rates, for example. As well, bigger, more expensive spas are branching into shortened and price conscious versions of their traditional offerings. You can now find 3 day or weekend deals at resorts that once were weekly only.
Luxury to Mainstream
Another trend is that the industry is shifting from being considered a luxury to a necessity. More and more of us are heading to the mountains, beaches, jungles, and forests to de-stress, rejuvenate, and catch up on rest. Just as having a personal trainer shifted in the late 90s from the domain of the rich and famous to mainstream middle class clients, so too is the concept of heading to the spa. Because I neeeeeed it!
You Are Feeling Sleepy
A trend Julie coined “Deep Sleep” highlights a solution spa professionals are creating for the 70 million chronically sleep deprived Americans. From having sleep experts on staff to meals devised to enhance relaxation to dream inducing treatments, spas are addressing sleep needs to keep us well and healthy. Budget minded sleepyheads can now nap in special “cabins” that have customizable aromatherapy and sound settings. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzone out for 20-40 minutes for $1 a minute you catnappers!
Get Real, Be Authentic
While American Spa’s editor, Julie covered 10 key trends, I will share just one more big one here: “Keeping It Real.” Spa goers seek authenticity. They — you?– crave experiences unique to a given location. Spas attract guests with ingredients and services indigenous to the region. The Ascent Spa at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is right on top of that trend with its treatments. Many of the soaps, skin care products, oils, and scents they use come from local sources.
I did professional research on their authenticity by booking their “Half Dome (half hour) Hiker’s Delight lower leg massage. It was real all right. So real I went for a brief hike afterward just to test out the full foot effect. Worth it for sure! My feet felt so good I could have gone up Half Dome. (Ok, my knees did not work in harmony with this idea). So back I went to the Ascent Spa for my “thank you for presenting gift” of their Signature Firefall Body Treatment, which pays homage to the Yosemite historic firefall when parkgoers used to throw fires over the waterfall. A little dangerous, but I am on board to be a trendsetter for that spa treatment!
And we hope such delight lies in your future and budget. If you have been to spas lately, what trends are you spotting? Which trends do you HOPE kick in so you can take advantage of this booming industry? As for my sister and me, we hope our trend of presenting and teaching at such glorious places continues into the future. I want to be Spa-tacus. Yes, I’m Spa-tacus!
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Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Can you believe that I get to celebrate my 56th birthday with my dear friend from Texas (yee haw!) at Rancho la Puerta fitness resort?! Meantime twinster, Alexandra gets to work at home. Awwwwww. Go ahead feel sorry for her as I did get the better end of that stick! Courtesy of twin friends who teach at the Ranch, I was invited as their guest to stay the week at the place voted numero uno in the mundo for Best Destination Spa. To top off the birthday specialness, one of my favorite authors, Dr. John Ratey, whom sis and I interviewed for our radio show, was presenting at the Ranch this same week. Oh yes, people, I did bring my copy of his new book, Go Wild for him to sign. He even dripped sweat on it as we had just finished an indoor cycling workout. Geek squeak!
Anyway, the point of this birthday brou-ha-ha is to tell you that this post will be short on text; long on photos. I mean, who wants to spend her b-day on a laptop writing long posts when Rancho la Puerta hikes, aqua workouts, exercise classes, meditation walks, and organic foods call. Not I, said the little red(headed) hen.
May you enjoy the pics below depicting me picturesquely, if not fully picaresquely.
So how do you plan to celebrate your next birthday?
What was your best birthday yet?
On our birthday list? Having you help spread the word about being active! Please pin the images, and:
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First of all, two of our long-standing favorite spas were in attendance, Rancho la Puerta and Glen Ivy Hot Springs, which has hosted our Christmas family get-together the past two years. (For more on Rancho la Puerta, read our review from last summer). At Thursday’s event, Glen Ivy Spa had a labyrinth you could walk (I didn’t, as I am terrible at being contemplative), plus they sent me home with lavender honey and a recipe for lavender honey muffins, which were popular with some family members; and not so much with the younger set!!
The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group gave me a Calm Mind massage, with a focus on my Chinese dominating element of Flourish. This was perfect timing, as I mentioned I was fighting a bit of light vertigo, so the massage therapist worked to loosen up my very tight neck and jaw. I went away less dizzy, which made me very grateful. According to their recommendations, raspberries are one of my healing foods, which suits me perfectly.
I then had a Vitamin C Infusion mini facial from Massage Envy. They are ubiquitous in California and I was surprised to discover they are only eight years old! The woman who gave me my facial looked about 25, yet mentioned a college-aged daughter. Crikey, after that, I told her to do the same to my skin as she was doing to hers. I wish I had taken her picture, as she really did look 20 years younger than she is.
At the Oaks at Ojai booth, I made my very own Italian seasoning, AND met Sheila Cluff, the owner/ founder, who also happens to be a prolific author, fitness icon and ice skater. She’s been in the fitness biz longer than I have! I also stopped at the Matrix booth and test “walked” their latest technology treadmill. I rarely use a treadmill since I love group fitness so much, and find them boring, but this one had lots to keep me occupied, including movies on demand. Mostly I enjoyed chatting with the rep Doug, as he had on crazy blue patterned shoes, mismatched multi-colored socks, and an orange patterned shirt. He said everyone over 50 gets to dress as they please, and age in reverse like Benjamin Button, so I adopted him. A little plug here for fitness – exercise keeps you young. Actually, it can reverse aging in some cases (think dementia, metabolic syndrome, intelligence).
Since fitness is our game, and soccer legs are my, er, legs, I happily hopped on the Travaasa bike and pedaled my way to a kale smoothie. I don’t like chunks in my drinks, so I pedaled till it was smooth. Or till I reached Austin, Texas, where they have a resort! Either way.
New to me was the Sacred Waters massage, which I got from Aspira Spa of Wisconsin. The spa is on a lake considered sacred by its native peoples, and the plants and methods used in the massage were warm and smelled great. The 15 minutes went by way too quickly. I had to feign sleep. They were on to me. Ah, well. Good excuse to visit Wisconsin again.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Last month, Alexandra and I were invited to Santa Barbara County’s newest week long wellness resort. With accommodations at the world class Bacara Resort, and adventures throughout the county, we left Sky Ranch Fitness quite impressed with the level of passion, instructor quality, and commitment to improving guests’ healthy living habits.
We especially loved the looooong, calorie burning hikes to places even we had not seen in our 30+ years living in Santa Barbara. Starting our day at 6:15 with a stretch or “foundation” class was worth waking for. Ending the day with a massage, or visit to a local winery for an exclusive dinner with a top level chef made me feel pampered and almost ready to move to a ranch. Or to have a personal chef at the very least.
However, it was the daily 3 hour hikes I really loved. Ok, maybe at the time as we were going uphill, both ways, in the heat, forever and ever, I might have moaned and whimpered a bit. And sung the Gilligan’s Island song. A Three Hour Tour. From coastline to mountain to meadow, Sky Ranch Fitness Spa took us on trails they had spent months researching and culling to provide the perfect options for a range of guest levels.
The hikes were so lovely and the staff so encouraging, offering so many great water bottles biomechanical walking tips, that a FUN thought occurred to me. Would it be ok to bring Kila princess doggie number one best and most loyal pup in the whole wide world who lives to run and walk and move and groove, as she still needed her daily walk? (Confession – I also did not want to have to miss the Sky Ranch afternoon classes, drive home, and walk Kila after spending the day exercising.) Or would it be tacky and intrusive to be THAT person who had to bring her dog along? So I asked Sky Ranch owner, Stuart Gildred plus checked with the other hikers. who all said “no prob.” Yeah, we had a great group of comrades the week Alexandra and I were at Sky Ranch Fitness! Since Tuesday’s hike took place on owner, Stuart’s private ranch, it seemed the perfect day to pack Kila in the Sky Ranch van and tote her along.
As Kila’s human guardian, I knew she would be easy to control and sweet with other people and animals. Plus I keep a sharp eye on her as she zips up hill and down dale. Except for that one minute I lost sight of her (possibly due to some heavy breathing on my part on a steep hill that necessitated a “photo opp” stop.) The fink! In fewer than 60 seconds of unsupervised excitement, that rat’s patootie of a pup found the freshest –as in wet, greenish brown, and still fermenting — cow pie ever. And rolled in it. A lot. All over. As in totally covered in sticky, stinky, socially unacceptable poop. Remember we came in a van? How was Mz Stank Thang going to get home?
Yes, she and I were facing social pariah status. Here is where you get an example of the level of service the Sky Ranch Fitness Spa offers. As we sweated our way back down the trail to Stuart’s ranch and the van waiting to take us back to an amazing lunch at the Bacara Resort, Stuart came up big! He brought over his hose to wash off some of the semi-dry, half squishy and still wet poop that could have fertilized an entire field. Then he fetched several towels from his personal stash. Towels I suggested would not recover from the duty they were about to perform. Towels that no human will want to touch ever again despite the cute, pink horsey theme they had going on.
And to top it off, the Sky Ranch staff and Stuart would not let me rinse, stash, pay for, nor burn them. They allowed me to abandon them in the parking lot where they said they’d take care of it. Trust me that these no pink horsies showed through the brown and green layers any more. Like the 1987 movie, these were Untouchables. And Kila was still Unpettable. But van Acceptable.
My point is that if you go to Sky Ranch Fitness, you will get this level of service, attention, and kindness of heart. From the Bacara maid to the certified fitness instructors to the owner himself, the Sky Ranch staff had our best interests in mind from morning to night. You will play hard and be rewarded for it. Though it’s only fair that you wash your own poop covered dog.
And now for some pictures of our week to really make you want to come to Santa Barbara! And maybe even to move more than usual as we head into summer.
We’re going to let you in on a non-secret so that you can put it on your radar for next season while it’s still easy to obtain a spot–Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite runs a superior Health and Wellness Retreat.
We just got back from presenting at their first retreat of this kind, and we were blown away by the caliber of the services, presenters, and food. Whether you drive in from California or a neighboring state, or fly into Fresno, then drive into the Sierra mountains, it’s worth a trip.
Tenaya Lodge sits at the gateway into Yosemite, so we knew the scenery was going to be fabulous. What we didn’t know was that the whole experience would be even more so!
In just 48 hours, we:
Ate copious amounts of amazing food created by chef Frederick Clabaugh, CEC, and attended workshops on:
Kymberly presented an edu-taining seminar, Great Gait and Powerful Posture, while Alexandra wore hot pink shorts to lead a rousing Drums Alive class. Oh, did we mention the 90 minute massage we each got? Or the nature hike where we tasted lichen, flowers, berries and pine needles? Hint – the sushi was better.
From the gift basket and personal note at arrival, to the boxed snacks that included San Pellegrino limonata at departure, the entire experience had flourishes and flair. Heck, they even put Kymberly into a room with a jacuzzi tub. Her suite was bigger than the cabin she lived in for eight years, but we won’t remind her of those dark days!
We heard a rumor that Tenaya Lodge might run another retreat in the Fall, so you might want to sign up for their newsletter so you’ll be notified of the dates. We know you take our recommendations seriously, and we say with full confidence that this was a very high-class event at an affordable price.
Disclosure: We were not paid anything to share our opinions, though we did receive the entire retreat as a thank you for the workshops we led. At no point were we asked to write anything except our own truth.
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I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.
Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to two super duper events, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).
This Saturday, January 25, we’ll be at the Sherpa booth (#556) at the L.A. FitExpo doing free posture and gait assessments from 1:30 – 3:30. Please stop by if you’re attending.
And at the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.
Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care. Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.
Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.
No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and
“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”
When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.
Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge
The Ranch staff know how much Kymberly loves Dr. Ratey’s research and book about the link between exercise and the brain (more from Kymberly in an upcoming post about her dream-come-true experience of meeting Dr. Ratey, who is very droll and excellent company), so they invited us to come down while he was a presenting guest. Try to feel our pain, as we had to choose every hour between lectures, massages, pool classes, group fitness classes, hikes, meditation, and eating organic, vegetarian food. Yeah, exactly. Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful (trivia: did you know that Rancho la Puerta: Golden Door has a long history with Pantene?)
Actually, our pictures can show you some of the beauty that is the Ranch.
Thank you LongSailSports, for the cool googles and GELIE bag! Perfect timing for this trip!
I dedicate the picture above to John Poole, as he has a tremendous love for squirrels and their antics.
Did you know there are many activities you can do when you are (still) recovering from foot surgery? I even took a water class, then did laps, right after 3 miles on the bike and a mile on the treadmill. I was
awesomely awesome somewhat nauseous afterward!
I was so gracious; I let them use my glutes as the model for these male torso sculptures.
Every day at the Ranch, I was asked about my compression leggings and socks by Zensah. You don’t have to have foot surgery to be a fashionista, by the way!
Yes, I woke up at 5:45 to take the morning hike to the organic garden and kitchen for breakfast. But look at the picture below and you’ll see that it was totally worth it!
Before Kymberly left town to visit her daughter at college, she made this short video that has some gorgeous views of the Ranch. Take a look.
By the way, if you are considering a trip to the Ranch, don’t listen to the dire warnings about Mexico. Rancho la Puerta is only 43 miles east of San Diego, and about 2 miles over the border at Tecate. You are escorted the entire way in the Ranch shuttle and you never have to leave the spa (although
we lots of people like to go into town for pinatas, chocolate, wine, lard-based donuts)!
Have you ever gone to a spa? What did you like best about it?
We want to give a shout-out here to our friends at Mr. Steam. They had nothing to do with our trip to Rancho la Puerta, but they do offer us the same feeling of spa luxury with their products. We’re proud to be ambassadors for them!